Prince George’s County Police suspends three officers amid investigation on use of force

Three Prince George’s County police officers were suspended Tuesday after the department launched an internal investigation over use of force, according to a release from county police. 

A preliminary investigation found that an officer observed an assault and attempted to detain the suspects, leading to a foot chase that ended at a Langley Park gas station, the release said. 

The officer handcuffed one suspect and then took the second suspect to the ground, according to the release. A second officer then arrived to assist, at which point the first officer kicked the second suspect while attempting to handcuff him, according to the release. 

The two suspects were ultimately released when the assault victim could not be located, the release said. 

Police Chief Hank Stawinski and the department’s executive command staff became aware of a cell phone video recording of the incident at noon on Tuesday, according to the release.

The video, which the police shared, showed police kicking a suspect and throwing him to the ground at the Langley Park gas station.

Several voices can be heard in the background of the video. At one point, a witness noted, “This the type of shit we be protesting.”

The release of the video comes as protesters across the country fill the streets to decry police brutality and systemic racism — demonstrations spurred in part by the killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. 

On Monday, Prince George’s County joined the flood of metropolitan areas to host a demonstration, with residents gathering in Oxon Hill to demand greater police accountability.

Upon review of the video, the two officers and their supervisor were suspended pending the investigation’s outcome, according to the release.

“I am sorry and I am angry. I am sharing the video in the interest of transparency. During my tenure as Chief of Police, four officers have been criminally prosecuted for assault. This will be thoroughly investigated and in keeping with past practice, the findings will be referred to the Office of the State’s Attorney,” Stawinski wrote in the release.

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